Every plan or idea, no matter how great or small, has at its inception a spark, that flash of inspiration that once ignited sends it all spiralling outwards in all sorts of weird and wonderful directions. A plan that had perhaps been dormant or sidelined by other considerations, but one that once brought into mind begins to develop with astonishing speed and clarity.
And so it was for us. We had thought that after 20-years in an urban environment – albeit the wonderfully eclectic gathering of humanity that is the city of Bristol – we wanted to return to the rural idylls we had enjoyed in the past. A life of healthy outdoor pursuits, a bigger garden with a vegetable and fruit garden, walks from the back door with happy hounds, far-reaching views and peace, perhaps even chickens, ducks and a pig. We drove. We looked. We discussed. And gradually, much as we love the country, we realised that we weren’t quite ready for it. It felt premature as though we might sink into slippers and cardigans before our time. So what to do? Katie had 14-years in the front line of a Cancer Charity and I’d had 14-years leading groups of Americans around Europe on foot or bike. We’d supported a few family members through the last years of their lives and I think it was in dealing with the ends of those lives that we truly began to question what we wanted to do with what time remained for us.
So during the winter solstice of 2013 we found ourselves hunkered down in our cosy Bristol bunker, the fridge full of good food, wine in the rack, all means of communication extinguished or ignored. And we talked, and talked, and talked. Finally arriving at the realisation that we needed to stop everything we were currently doing and begin something new. We wanted to shake things up, break out of our comfort zones, remake the shapes we had assumed and get out into a wider world. That was the spark and it was born out of restlessness and curiousity and perhaps most importantly of all, what would you regret not doing before your allotted span was up?
A very good friend once told me that whenever he asks me if we should try something new my default answer is invariably ‘why not!’ We’d arrived at a HUGE ‘why not’ moment. The next step was going to be deciding what exactly it was that we wanted to do . . . ?